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Driving sustainable progress in a connected world



Harry Verhaar

The increasing connectivity in today’s world has created an environment rich with opportunities for innovation. Indeed, with the Internet of Things poised to revolutionize the way we live and work, considerable benefits are set to be unlocked for consumers and businesses over the coming decade.


However, in a world where growing resource constraints are heightening concerns over access to a secure and reliable supply of affordable energy, it is clear that this era of connectivity must equally be exploited for another purpose: to drive progress in global energy efficiency.

Despite global energy efficiency improving by between 1 and 1.5 per cent annually, demand for energy around the world continues to grow by 3.5 per cent on the same yearly basis. It is crucial that we move to close this gap and, by exploiting the connectivity between sustainable products in order to maximize their energy-saving potential.

Driving sustainable

The latest connected LED lighting, for instance, responds to the ebb and flow of urban activity and, by combining LED lighting with  sensors,  networks, apps and intelligent lighting control systems, savings in energy use and maintenance costs can be maximized. At the same time, people feel safer, more secure, and more comfortable in public spaces, inside buildings, and at home.

A global transition to such widely available efficient solutions by 2030 could reduce electricity demand for lighting by more than 30 per cent – avoiding over one gigatonne of CO2. To put that in context, one million square kilometers of trees – enough trees to cover the whole of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium – would be required to capture one gigatonne of CO2. Said differently, it represents the average annual household consumption of 570 million homes. Therefore, a global transition would also deliver substantial economic benefits. It is clear where we have to go. The question is, how do we get there and how fast can we move?

Driving sustainable

Innovation has put such sustainable solutions within reach, yet their realization on a truly significant scale requires connections between more than devices alone. At Philips, we believe that the key to driving sustainable progress lies in partnerships – and to truly ramp up the adoption of connected, energy-efficient solutions, there is a real need for stronger collaboration.


A good example is the en.lighten partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environmental Facility, Philips, Osram, and China’s National Lighting Test Centre.  The initiative was established in 2009 and tasked with setting a global strategy for accelerating the transition to environmentally sustainable lighting technologies worldwide. It has since been expanded as a Sustainable Energy for All Lighting Efficiency Accelerator, partnering with more than 60 countries, and now aims to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.

Driving sustainable

The partnership harnesses the complementary experience and expertise of its members to provide a platform for driving positive change. It is also an illustration of how the public and private sectors can collaborate to set out a clear roadmap for sustainable progress; significantly, while both sectors bring substantial value to en.lighten, neither could maintain its momentum alone. Unquestionably, there is huge potential for meaningful innovation in today’s connected world. It is our belief that such partnerships are the key to unlocking it.

Harry Verhaar Small

Harry Verhaar  

Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Philips Lighting

Harry Verhaar has over 20 years of experience in the lighting industry, and is Head of Global Public & Government Affairs for Philips Lighting.He is responsible for the strategy, outreach and stakeholder management on energy & climate change, resource efficiency and sustainable development, with a key focus on the role of the LED lighting revolution.

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